Archive for September, 2008

What to wear, where (and what you are saying!)

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

This post is prompted by what I saw when I was having lunch with a friend the other day. Please keep in mind that I live and work in Los Angeles. More specifically, I was in Beverly Hills near where there are several talent agencies.

There I am, munching on my salad, sipping my iced tea when a young woman walks in wearing a painted on brown dress which reached half way down her thighs, obviously bleached blonde hair and purple platform heels. I almost dropped my fork. As she walked by, I was able to see that the slit in her skirt was very high. If she had leaned over, she would have had no secrets.

(Note: in case I am sounding prudish here, in appropriate situations I have been known to dress in form fitting clothes, short skirts and heels. Date with a really yummy man? depends on the man. Business lunches are probably not the venue for this.)

My friend looked at me and said, yeah, that’s one of the secretaries from X-Y-Z. Bright. Good with people. Wants to be promoted. Unfortunately, she looks like someones mistress. A cheap one, too.

Okay…..

Since I didn’t ask for the secretaries name, we’ll call her Kathy. Nothing for or against the Kathy’s in the world, just an easy name. I know nothing about Kathy. Don’t know her income level, her education level, where she grew up, what her ambitions are. What I do know is that she doesn’t know how to dress for success.

Agencies are notorious for being business casual and encouraging their employees to be creative. Especially is you are on the music side. But there are rules which are good to understand. One of which is to dress with the same sense and aesthetic that the boss dresses. Don’t go out and copy their wardrobe, by any means, but if the boss wears suits, I would suggest you go buy a couple of decent suits. If you have a male boss and he wears ties, and you are female, time to invest in a couple of pearl necklaces.

Hemlines

This is tricky. But overall, the consensus is that hems should be within an inch of the knee. A designer I spoke to many years ago told me that the perfect hem for a womans suit is the dimple at the back of her knee. This makes the line long enough that it is elegant, but short enough that you can move.

If you are wearing long skirts, which I happen to love, be sure that they are proportional to your body, the hem is even and that they are not going to constantly be caught in your chair, rollers, doors, etc. A good rule of thumb is clean lines.

Slits

If your skirt has a slit, be sure that they aren’t showing too much. If you have to worry about your underwear showing when you bend over (or if you like to wear garter belts and stocking and the top of your stockings show when you walk,) chances are your slit is too high for daytime wear.

Tops

When Candice Bergan first came on Boston Legal, her character looked at a female attorney who was flashing cleavage and said, go put on a shirt and pretend that you are a lawyer. I found that to be a brilliant statement. I have nothing against breasts. I have a very nice set of them myself. But in the business world, they should never be the focal point in any discussion. Unless you are a salesman for Dow Corning, but we get off track here. . .

A top in a business situation should cover your assets. Whether that is a blouse, a tee or a sweater, it should not be a display case for your breasts. Unfortunately, we still have the dichotomy that while we should be able to wear a string bikini to the office and have nothing said to us, breasts in western society are still considered objects of sexual titillation. Pun intended. So, no matter how beautiful a womans might be, if she wants to be taken seriously she may want to think about where her neckline is hitting and what it is hinting at.

To be continued. . .